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Vogelsong aims to pitch Giants into NLCS

Righty, who was disappointed with his regular season, to start Game 4

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong couldn't hide the disappointment after his final start of the regular season. His headshakes were numerous, and his tone subdued.

A potential free agent after this season, Vogelsong didn't know if he'd make another start at AT&T Park as a Giant. Vogelsong was disappointed despite lowering his ERA from last year by 1.73 and throwing 81 more innings.

"I still didn't throw the ball the way I wanted to all year," said Vogelsong, whom the Padres tagged for three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings that late September night. "You never know where you're going to be next year in free agency. That's why I wanted to end with a good one, depending on what happens in the playoffs. I wanted to have a good one to finish off, and I blew it."

Vogelsong will get the opportunity to rinse that sour taste from his mouth on Tuesday, when he starts Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Nationals (watch at 6 p.m. PT on FOX Sports 1). The Nats will attempt to prolong their season by countering with lefty Gio Gonzalez.

Vogelsong will look to send the Giants to their third NL Championship Series in five years, but if history is any indicator, the 37-year-old is facing a tall task.

Vogelsong was 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts against the Nationals this season. He was tagged for six earned runs on nine hits in six innings at AT&T Park on June 9, and Vogelsong surrendered three earned runs on four hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings at Nationals Park on Aug. 24.

For his career, Vogelsong is 1-2 with a 6.16 ERA in nine appearances (five starts) against the Nats.

Vogelsong said he expects the experience he gained from pitching during San Francisco's 2012 postseason run to be beneficial on Tuesday. He will have to adjust to pitching on 10 days' rest, though.

"Just kind of back to basics a little bit, really," Vogelsong said Monday when asked how he has maintained form during his extended time between outings. "Doing some drill work, doing some stuff in the outfield on the flat ground. Threw a couple bullpen [sessions], and really was just trying to clean up some things that I felt like got away from me a little bit there at the end of the season."

In five September starts, Vogelsong went 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA.

"Over my entire career, I've had times where I've gotten out of whack there a little bit and things have gone awry, and I've found a way to get back in the right path," Vogelsong said. "Hopefully, like I said, the work I put in from the end of the season to now pays off, and I go out there and make the pitches that I want to make."

Manager Bruce Bochy has full confidence that Vogelsong can do just that.

"He's a guy we have all the confidence in the world in. He's been in this situation, and we're very confident with him out there," Bochy said. "We are going to face another good starter, and it's going to be, I expect, a good, tight ballgame.

"[Vogelsong] is a guy that helped us in 2012, and he's got the experience. I think he's having an even better year than what the numbers showed. He's got good stuff."

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Ryan Vogelsong